The Sao Paulo Indy 300 received a new champion this afternoon, but to the chagrin of the Brazilian fans in attendance at Anhembi Park, it wasn’t one of their own.
KV Racing Technology’s Tony Kanaan (pictured) had the best shot to give those fans a home victory. Torn ligaments in his right hand didn’t stop the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion from making his way to the lead at Lap 10, which triggered a loud response from his countrymen in the stands.
Kanaan lost the lead on pit road during a caution period, but still managed to stay toward the front until he once again re-assumed the point at Lap 45 with a cross-over move on Ryan Hunter-Reay coming out of Turn 11.
However, former teammate Marco Andretti wrestled the lead from him shortly after, and on Lap 51, Kanaan suddenly slowed down and eventually crawled to a stop on the Sambadromo frontstretch with his car out of fuel. What had appeared to be a potential win eventually became a 21st place finish, three laps down.
But at least he had some time at the front of the field unlike his compatriots, Helio Castroneves and Ana Beatriz, who both had an unhappy homecoming.
Starting 18th, Castroneves had contact with teammate Will Power in the opening stint and then spun out following contact with Scott Dixon in Turn 2 on a Lap 27 restart. His long day continued on Lap 40, when Sebastien Bourdais hit him and triggered a multi-car stack-up that also involved Simon Pagenaud, J.R. Hildebrand and Charlie Kimball.
He would eventually come home in 13th place, falling from first to third in the championship behind race runner-up Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti as the Indianapolis 500 looms.
Beatriz, driving for Dale Coyne Racing, was the day’s first casualty as she suffered a terminal mechanical failure on her No. 18 Honda at Lap 7.